So much has been written about the royal wedding and the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge that it might be thought no more is needed. Prince William has issued a plea for them to enjoy some years of peace, and most normal people, monarchist or not, have every sympathy for this. Yet at the same time as praising the former Kate Middleton, journalists have, in the usual fashion, cheered with one breath and sniped with the other. How long before this discreet and sensible young woman starts to get attacked as “boring”? However much she may try to maintain a low profile, the world hungers for more pictures and more stories. Whatever she supports will become high-profile, and this is what makes me think that, besides her admirable concern for the victims of bullying, she actually could do something different and remarkable.
The great glory of this country is its creativity—yet ever since the death of Prince Albert, the arts have had no royal champion. Prince Charles’s forays into modern architecture have been contentious, and possibly unhelpful, and apart from these no royal person has done much beyond trying to flog dreadful books (Fergie’s Budgie the Helicopter anyone?) written by themselves. The Queen is known to have watched films in which she or her father have been portrayed, and the Royal Variety Show is an annual trashfest which, while it may do good for charity, does little to present the nation’s real talent. It is known that a selection of books is sent up to Balmoral every summer, but what these are and whether they are read remains secret. When Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, revealed last year that she read every novel on the Orange prize shortlist, there were audible gasps of amazement from the audience who tended to assume that royalty never reads anything more than Horse and Hound. At a stroke, much of the audience (which had been wondering quite what she was doing at the ceremony) felt warmly interested in her.
This is very much what I would like to see the new Duke and Duchess doing. Both studied history of art at university, so each must, presumably, have a keen interest in the subject. Catherine…